Last week, the NWSL announced the inaugural class of Free Agents ahead of the 2023 season. While we are very much still in the middle of the 2022 season, the players who are Free Agents are free to begin talking to clubs for the upcoming season as they decide their futures, an effect of the first Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NWSL Players Association.
While players who are out of contract and not offered a new deal by their current club are also technically “free agents,” this new class of players comes after previously, players were essentially tied to their clubs indefinitely, at the clubs’ discretion. Sure, a few stars had the ability to ask to be traded and sometimes even dictate their next team, but the advent of actual free agency in NWSL is a big step forward in the league and a big motivational factor for clubs to actually be attractive destinations to players, which should, in turn, push the professionalization of the league forward.
When it comes to Angel City FC, obviously they can try and sign some of the players who are eligible for Free Agency, but for players connected to them currently who are on the list, only Julie Ertz, who is not under contract to Angel City this year because she had a baby, is on the league’s Free Agency list. That means she could sign for another team this offseason, and never play for ACFC. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, there’s a second player whose status is in dispute. 22 players are not considered Free Agents by the league, but the NWSLPA thinks they should be, and included in that group is Angel City’s Jasmyne Spencer. She’s one of four players who is in that group and has played in every season of the league’s history.
As a result, that group of 22, including Spencer, will enter arbitration to decide their status. It’s unclear if an arbitrator will decide each case individually or if they will be ruled on singularly as a group, but it’s clear Spencer wants the right to enter free agency.
Spencer is a popular Angel City player and some fans are probably concerned she wants to leave the club after one season. While that’s certainly possible — and one could argue she’s paid her dues to have that option for 2023 — it’s also possible she’s staking this position for the good of the players overall and the league moving forward. In other words, it’s possible she’s taking a principled stand here and may still re-sign with ACFC. Plus, she may still want to return to Angel City, but as a Free Agent she would likely have more leverage to get a better deal for herself, which, fair play to her.
Here is the full group of players who could be Free Agents, based on how arbitration goes for the 22 players that includes Spencer.
Even though technically the Free Agency period is open, don’t expect to hear actual signings until at least the regular season ends, and probably once the 2022 campaign is fully in the books. Otherwise, it’s going to get kind of confusing. Still, we’ll keep you posted on developments to players coming, going, and what happens with Spencer’s status heading into 2023.
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